Leaders with the Houston-Galveston Area Council are soliciting input on the state of public transportation in Fort Bend County and the Houston region.
Public transportation across the region had been steadily growing and expanding before the pandemic begin in March 2020, according to Jamila Owens, the council’s travel demand program manager. At its height, Fort Bend County residents were making more than 14,000 trips per day on the county’s commuter route.
But the pandemic has cut those numbers in half, and while they’ve recovered slightly in recent months, regional travel experts are working to see what needs residents have for public transportation, Owens said.
“I think we’re in an interesting spot right now,” Owens said. “The newer generation is more open to public transportation than maybe we were previously.”
Fort Bend County commuters currently have two options for public transportation, Owens said. The first is a commuter bus service that makes regular trips to the Galleria area, Greenway Plaza and the Texas Medical Center, with service to downtown set to begin in 2022, she said.
There’s also a demand-response service, which residents could use to arrange a trip within Fort Bend County, say from Sugar land to Missouri City, Owens said.
County leaders have taken steps in recent years to improve public transportation. Commissioners, for instance, recently accepted a federal grant of about $4.5 million that will go toward purchasing 28 buses, according to an award letter. The buses will be used for the county’s new commuter service to downtown Houston, according to the agreement.
At the same time, the Houston-Galveston Area Council is working to update its five-year public transportation plan, Owens said. The goal is to see what areas have gaps in coverage that need addressing, she said.
Ridership is important and bringing back people who were using public transportation before the pandemic is as well, but there’s also some inherent goods to better public transportation infrastructure, Owens said.
“You’re looking at resiliency – can people travel where they need to during floods?” she said. “You’re also seeing a lot more public support through voting and that sort of thing for public infrastructure projects.”
Visit engage.h-gac.com/rctp to learn more about the council’s efforts and register for public meetings.